Unit 1 Strike Vote FAQ

nathan3906Uncategorized

  • When? Where?

The Strike Vote will begin directly after the Strike Vote Special General Membership Meeting, which is taking place on September 23rd in CIBC Hall (MUSC, 3rd Floor) at 12pm.

The Strike Vote will then continue for the following three days from 9AM-5PM at the following locations:

September 24th, 2019
-Thodes Library Lobby
MUSC 1st floor Entrance (near Starbucks)
September 25th, 2019
-Thodes Library Lobby
MUSC 1st floor Entrance (near Starbucks)
September 26th, 2019
-Mills Library Lobby
MUSC 1st floor Entrance (near Starbucks)
  • What is a Strike Vote?

A Strike Vote decides whether or not the Unit’s general membership is willing to grant their Bargaining Team permission to call a strike should negotiations fail. A majority (50%+1) of “yes” votes is required for such authorization.

It is normal for a Union to ask for a strong “strike vote” during the process of any legal contract negotiations in Canada.  In fact, CUPE 3906’s TA and RA (in lieu)’ and Sessional Faculty/Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty (HRSMF) bargaining teams have asked for a strong strike vote from its membership in virtually every single TA and RA (in lieu) contract negotiations in the past 40+ years.

The exact wording of the strike vote question may vary, but it always asks the same basic question: do you authorize your bargaining team to call a strike if negotiations fail at the bargaining table?  A strong “yes” to this question with as many members voting as possible is the best scenario: it says to the Employer that they have a “last chance” to return to the bargaining table through conciliation or mediation and negotiate in good faith to get a deal or else the members are prepared to proceed to the “next steps” in the legal bargaining process: legal strike action.

  • What does Voting Yes on a Strike Vote mean?

Voting yes on a strike vote signals that you are unwilling to accept the employer’s most recent offer. Collective bargaining allows us to decide, as a group, under what conditions we are willing to work. A strong strike vote – or a majority “yes” vote with over 85% of our members voting – signals to the employer that the membership is unwilling to work under the conditions they are offering. This is where the strength of collective bargaining is found!

A successful strike vote does not mean there will be a strike. It simply authorizes the bargaining team to call a strike should negotiations fail. In other words, a strong yes vote puts the Union in the best possible position to secure a good deal without needing to call a strike.

  • What does Voting No on a Strike Vote mean?

Voting no on a strike vote signals that you are willing to accept the deal the employer has offered. An unsuccessful strike vote (a majority of “no” votes) would essentially force the bargaining team to accept whichever deal the Employer has last put on the table. An unsuccessful strike vote, or even a successful strike vote that is weak, leaves the bargaining team with few options other than accepting the deal and bringing it back to the membership to ratify.

In other words, a failed strike vote or even a weak though successful strike vote would be disastrous for the union’s ability to secure a better agreement for the membership.

  • What’s the point of getting a strike vote if Doug Ford’s government passes Bill 124 anyway?

Great question!  The problem is, regardless of the threat of Bill 124 becoming legislation when the government returns from summer break, there are concessions (i.e., reductions in our contract rights) that are on the table that have nothing to do with Bill 124 that we have to fight.  These include concessions to what’s considered a “normal” number of TA hours per work in a given academic year and whether or not you get to keep the same hours from year-to-year, and whether or not you get to defer a course (e.g., if you’re away on research leave or teaching a course) and thereby maintain your funding even if your studies take longer than your graduate guarantee.

Lastly, given that we are among the first Unions to enter collective bargaining under the threat of Bill 124, we have a responsibility to resist it through every means possible. As members of a union, we have access to legal rights that others do not – including the ability to call strike votes and hold legal strikes. Bill 124 threatens thousands of workers across the province, many of whom will not have access to bargaining until well after the government will reconvene to discuss it. The provincial government – and, by extension, McMaster – seem to expect us and the rest of the public sector to simply accept these concessions with little to no resistance. If we do not resist Bill 124 as much as possible before it becomes law, the fight will be that much harder if it does end up becoming law.

  • Who can vote in a Unit 1 (TA and RA in lieu of TA) strike vote?

Only members of Unit 1 (Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants in lieu of Teaching Assistants) may vote in a Unit 1 strike vote.  The following members of Unit 1 may vote in a strike vote:

  1. Members who are working as TAs or RAs (in lieu) this term;
  2. Members who hold a TA/RA (in lieu) funding guarantee or a contract to work as a TA/RA (in lieu) in the 2019-2020 academic year (i.e., “contract in hand”);
  3. “Political” members of the union (i.e., members who have held a contract work as a TA or RA in lieu in the last two academic terms—i.e., winter 2019 or spring/summer 2019).

Please note that all members require personal identification to vote.  Some members (especially those members in categories ii and iii) may require proof of membership to vote (see: next question).

  • What do I need to vote in a strike vote?
  1. All members must bring photo ID to vote in the strike vote.  Photo ID includes your student card, and/or a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license.  (Please note that we cannot accept health cards for privacy reasons.)
  2. Members who are not working as Teaching Assistants or Research Assistants (in Lieu of Teaching Assistants) in the FALL 2019 term should bring proof of membership to the vote.  A TA or RA in lieu Appointment Letter (e.g., guaranteed funding letter) is acceptable proof of membership.
  •    Why is the Union sequestering ballots? 

If the polling station staff cannot find your name on our membership list (or if you fall into categories ii or iii in the “who can vote” question above), they will ask you to “sequester” your ballot.  This means that you will be asked to insert your completed ballot into a blank envelope, which you will then place into another envelope on which the polling station staff will write your name, student number, department and term in which you are, were, or will be employed as a TA or RA (in lieu).  Sequestering ballots allows the union to include as many votes as possible because it gives the union the opportunity to verify your membership in other ways if you aren’t on this term’s membership list (e.g., by checking Hours of Work forms).  Once the union has verified your membership, the blank envelope containing your ballot is removed from the outside, identifying envelope, and added to a pile of other anonymous envelopes.  Once all of the sequestered ballots have been added, the scrutineers open all of the blank envelopes and count the ballots as marked.  This way, the union can be certain that you are actually eligible to vote while preserving the anonymity of your ballot.

  • Can I vote in the strike vote online?  Is there proxy voting?

We are not able to set up the strike vote online for a number of reasons.  First, our bylaws do not permit online voting.  Second, the online infrastructure to ensure the privacy and eligibility of voters is cost-prohibitive and incompatible with the requirements of our sequestered balloting process.

Proxy voting in strike votes is prohibited.

  • Do we get paid during a strike?

Pay from the Employer stops, and benefits coverage could likely be interrupted. Instead of working 10 hours a week for their regular TA pay, striking Unit 1 members can receive strike pay in the amount of $15/hour for up to 20 hours a week of strike duties, for a total of $300 per week. Strike pay is not taxable income. The Union will also establish a Hardship Fund to help members in particularly precarious financial positions. Please note that a strike or a lockout should not impact your scholarship earnings at the University, or any other wages you may receive from non-CUPE 3906 Unit 1 TA or RA (in lieu) employment

For International Members….

  • Do I have the right to strike as a non-citizen?
In Canada, your ability to participate in a strike is legally protected and citizenship or immigration status has no bearing. TAs and Postdocs at McMaster have a legal right to strike, one that is protected by both the Ontario Labour Relations Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You have every right and ability to participate if you so choose.
  • Will being on strike affect my Permanent Resident application?
We have not heard of any TA or Postdoc have their PR application impacted by participating in a legal strike.
  • Can I avoid having my picture taken on the picket line?
To every extent possible. CUPE 3906 would be taking some photos, but we’ll try and give people a heads up and allow them to move out of the shot.

Unit 1 Has Filed for Conciliation

nathan3906Uncategorized

September 4, 2019
HAMILTON, ON — As many of our Unit 1 Members (TAs and RAs in-lieu) are already aware, the Union and the Employer recently arrived at an impasse. Non-monetary items aside, the Employer has continued to bargain within the parameters of a bill that is not yet law but, if passed, would have disastrous effects on public sector workers across Ontario: Doug Ford’s Bill 124.
Even when we made it known we would consider accepting the 1% wage cap contained in Bill 124 in exchange for significant and meaningful movement on minimum 65-hour contracts, 5th year TA guarantees, tuition freezes, paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training, and closing the Class A and B wage gaps, the Employer did not hesitate to make their lack of interest in genuine negotiations exceedingly clear.
In addition to this refusal, and in the final hours of our most recent day at the bargaining table, the Employer informed us that they no longer intend to bargain with us unless we settle an outstanding grievance. Because the grievance process is a labour relations issue and not a collective bargaining issue,  this effectively signals that we are at an impasse.
Since both sides are evidently so far apart at the bargaining table, we have now officially filed for conciliation: a process wherein a neutral third party from the Ministry of Labour comes to assist with negotiations. We remain steadfast in representing YOUR interests and are optimistic that a negotiated settlement can be reached.
One of the best ways to maximize our effectiveness during conciliation is by holding a strike vote. With this, you might ask, Would a positive strike vote mean we have to go on strike? The answer to this question is NO. A positive strike vote from our Members would authorize the Bargaining Team to call a strike if, through the conciliation process, the Employer remains unwilling to give us a fair deal that reflects the priorities of our membership. By contrast, failing to authorize a strike would signal to the University that our Members are willing to accept whatever crumbs we are given, including the 1% wage caps and none of the previously discussed gains that could offset the harms of Bill 124 and our already devastating precarity as TAs and RAs in-lieu at McMaster.
In solidarity,
The Unit 1 Bargaining Team

Unit 1 Bargaining Update #2

nathan3906Uncategorized

Unit 1 Bargaining Update #2

August 27, 2019

After a summer away from the bargaining table, your Union met with employer representatives from McMaster on August 21 and 22. While we made progress on some smaller issues, often involving day-to-day labour relations issues, no progress was made on larger items that you identified as priorities. These include extended guaranteed TAships for graduate students, meaningful wage increases, equal pay for all TAs, protection against tuition increases, a higher minimum number of hours on a contract, and access to paid training.

Unfortunately, the Employer’s proposals have remained the same since June – a ‘no’ to all proposals. McMaster will only negotiate within what it sees as the framework of Bill 124, a bill (which is not yet law) that would limit wage and benefits increases to 1% per year. At the same time, they have also proposed concessions that would see the erosion of graduate students’ guaranteed TAships and have tabled language that would see the elimination of a minimum number of hours per contract (currently set at a minimum of 32 hours). Finally, rather than establish paid anti-oppression and pedagogical training for TAs, McMaster has proposed a committee to determine if TA training is even ‘feasible.’ In a large and diverse university, we fail to see how TA training could possibly be unfeasible.
Where does CUPE stand?

Despite the fact that Bill 124 is not a law (and, as such, our feeling that we do not need to negotiate within its limitations), your Union explored all options to secure the best possible deal for TAs and RAs in lieu. In fact, we offered to consider a mere 1% wage increase, contingent on meaningful and substantial movement from the Employer on the following key issues, each of which can still be bargained within McMaster’s self-imposed limitations of Bill 124:

·         Minimum 65-hour contracts
·         5th year guaranteed TAships
·         Tuition Freeze
·         Paid Training (Pedagogical & Anti-Oppression)
·         Closing the Class A and B wage gaps

These five items speak to several of the priorities our members made clear to us through our Bargaining Survey. Unfortunately, McMaster signaled that it has no interest in moving forward on these terms, leaving us with virtually no way of moving forward while representing the interests of our members.

McMaster’s Position 

On August 22nd your Union was shocked to hear that, in addition to rejecting our proposed framework, McMaster University was signalling an impasse by effectively walking away from the bargaining table. This decision was ostensibly made in light of a policy grievance CUPE had filed weeks ago, alleging that some employees who should be covered by the Collective Agreement were not (and, as such, were denied benefits and wages). For obvious reasons, we find ourselves questioning the Employer’s last-minute decision not to resume negotiations pending an arbitration ruling on this specific grievance.

Essentially, after we had presented a framework through which CUPE would consider a 1% wage increase in exchange for meaningful movement on a higher minimum number of hours, expanded graduate guarantees, protection from tuition increases, paid TA training, and equitable wages for all TAs, McMaster University signaled that it had zero interest in moving forward on such terms. This is completely unnecessary and could undoubtedly cause major delays in the bargaining process.

What do we go from here? 

CUPE remains committed to continuing to bargain in good faith. Not only have we proposed a framework to move forward with securing a fair collective agreement, we believe that the parties can and should continue to bargain in good faith for the benefit of our members regardless of the status of ongoing grievances.
CUPE is ready to continue to bargain a fair and meaningful deal for its members and that one that works for all parties. We are no longer confident that McMaster shares this goal.

We will continue to reach to members and move forward with the hopes of moving past this impasse that we feel McMaster has created.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

MEMBER PRIORITIES UNION PROPOSALS EMPLOYER PROPOSALS
JOB SECURITY and HOURS OF WORK · Standard 5-year TA guarantee for PhD students

· Standard 2-year TA guarantee for Masters’ students

· No extension of guaranteed funding period

· No minimum number of hours per contract

WAGES · 5% increases per year for all members in recognition of increases to the cost of living & historical wage stagnation.

· Equal pay for undergraduate and graduate TA/RAs.

· 1% per year for all members, following what they believe Bill 124 will require of them if it becomes law.

· Additional 0.35% per year for all members if Bill 124 does not pass

TRAINING · Optional paid training for professional development and anti-oppression practices · No paid training for professional development or anti-oppression

· Option to strike a committee to discuss the “feasibility” of additional training (paid or unpaid)

FUNDING · Tuition reimbursements freezing the cost of tuition at the 2018-2019 domestic student rate for all members · No tuition waiver/reimbursement
BENEFITS · Employer to pay 50% of UHIP costs

· General increases to Benefits Funds that respond adequately to rising insurance rates and service costs

· $10,000 gender-affirmation fund

· No increase to benefits funds over 2-years

· Committee to discuss supports for gender-affirmation

 

How can you help?

 

  • Attend as many of our meetings and events as you can & bring colleagues!
  • Join our Bargaining Support Committee
  • Follow & engage with us on Social Media
  • Sign & Share our Petitions
  • Become a Department Steward
  • Organize a Departmental Event
  • Contact: president@cupe3906.org | evan@cupe3906.org

Emergency Town Hall on Bill 124

evan3906Uncategorized

July 31st, 12PM, GH 111 (McMaster Council Chambers)
12:00 – 2:00 pm

What is Bill 124? How will it affect us at McMaster? And, most importantly – how will we respond?

On the Agenda:

  • Guest Speakers – Roberto Henrquez & Janice Folk-Dawson
  • Bargaining Team Updates
  • Q & A Session – your time to speak up!
  • Community Strategy Session – what are our next steps?

Roberto Henriquez

Roberto practices labour law, employment law, and human rights law in Hamilton and across south-west Ontario including: Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Ancaster, Dundas, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington.

Since being called to the bar in 2014, Roberto worked in-house at a large private sector union, an administrative tribunal, and in local Hamilton government before joining Molyneaux Law in Spring 2019.

Roberto will be speaking to us about Bill 124 itself: What does it entail? Who does it affect? What happens if it becomes a law?

 

Janice Folk-Dawson

Janice is the President of CUPE Local 1334 which represents the Maintenance, Trades and Service personnel at the University of Guelph.

Janice is also the Chair of the Ontario University Workers’ Coordinating Committee (OUWCC), which is one of 6 large sector groups within CUPE Ontario.
Janice is a feminist and community activist, and has been vital to CUPE 3906’s ongoing strategy in response to Bill 124.

Janice will be speaking to us about the University Sector’s response to Bill 124, how the sector has already been affected, and what role the OUWCC can play in our fight back.

 


If you have any questions or require any further details, please contact staff@cupe3906.org

CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #1 — Unit 1: TAs and RAs (in lieu)

evan3906Uncategorized

HAMILTON, ON — The CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team met face-to-face with the Employer’s Bargaining Team for the first time this bargaining round on June 11-12, 20, and 24, 2019.  

Your Union presented a package addressing all of the priorities that were passed at our April 15, 2019 Special General Membership Meeting, including increased funding, expanding mental and physical health and wellness supports, increasing paid training (both pedagogical and anti-oppression), better representation for indigenous members, and improved working conditions. Notably, this included expanding the ‘guarantee’ period for doctoral students to five years and providing a longer guarantee for Master’s students.

So far, the parties have made progress on several articles that address the daily function of labour/management relations, health and safety, pregnancy leave, and support for survivors of domestic assault and sexual harassment. 

The Employer also proposed a semester-long probation period, which would have allowed for the termination of contracts after the first term and, as such, increased the precarity of our situation as workers for the following 3.5 years. Thankfully we were able to push the Employer to withdraw this proposal. 

The compensation package the Employer has presented is below inflation and will effectively result in a pay decrease. The McMaster Administration has been emboldened by Doug Ford’s proposed ‘Bill 124’ and is refusing to offer anything above 1% total compensation (including wages, benefits, and other funds).

At the moment, the Employer appears committed to severely limiting improvements to our contract based on the prospect of Doug Ford’s Bill 124. We are especially disappointed not to have reached agreements on the following issues:

  • tuition waivers as an option to improve the financial situation of our members;
  • commitment to pedagogical or anti-oppression training, however there is a proposal on the
  • table to strike a committee over the next two years to determine the “feasibility” of such training; 
  • increasing the minimum number of hours on a contract from 32 to 65 (the Employer is proposing no minimum on the number of hours they’d need to assign, which will make work even more precarious); 
  • restrictions on the Employer’s ability to contract out or assign volunteers to do work normally associated with our unit (This means that they are refusing to guarantee they will not, for instance, hire an outside company to do marking for online courses or try to establish volunteer programs to conduct the services we normally do).

The employer has also proposed removing language from our Collective Agreement which recognizes a normal expectation of 10hrs/week (or 130hrs per term / 260hrs per two terms) for Unit 1 work, thus opening the door for more precarity and less job security. 

Given the pressure we are facing from the Employer’s Bargaining Team, McMaster’s Board of Governors, and the provincial government, we need your support now more than ever. 

Did you know: there are many ways that you can keep up-to-date with negotiations and support your Bargaining Team? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Download, print, and share the petition to McMaster President Patrick Deane in support of our bargaining demands.
  • Take a picture with the #BetterMac window sign and tag us on social media. Visit BetterMac.ca for a copy of the sign, or drop by the Union Office at Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111 to participate!
  • Attend a bargaining support committee meeting and participate in bargaining support activities. Our Bargaining Team is only as strong as the members who support us, so show that support by getting involved in the committee. The next meeting is on Wednesday, July 17, from 12:30-2:00pm in Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111.

To learn more about Bill 124 and how that impacts our union, click here.

Unit 1 is CUPE 3906’s largest unit with over 2,900 members, and includes graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, research assistants (in lieu of a TAship), demonstrators, markers, tutors and super tutors. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #4 — Unit 3: Postdoctoral Fellows

evan3906Bargaining, Unit 3 Bargaining

HAMILTON, ON — The CUPE 3906 Unit 3 Bargaining Team met face-to-face with the Employer’s Bargaining Team for a second set of dates on June 4th and June 5th

In addition to making improvements on many of the day-to-day labour relations issues, we have secured
improvements to the ‘No Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment’ article, agreed to a new article providing protection and support for those who have suffered from domestic violence, and strengthened language on workplace accommodations. We have also secured some tangible gains – such as a tuition bursary for your dependents. We also believe that we are close to securing language that would provide guidelines and limitations on student mentorship workloads and expectations

Problematically, the Employer has tabled language that we feel would adversely affect your right to vacation entitlement and creating a situation in which days slowly accrue, making it harder to secure enough days for a sustained vacation. We’re continuing to push back against this.

We saw the Employer propose some modest increases to the Health Care Spending Account and Professional Development Fund that would fail to provide any increased entitlement for individual members.

On June 5th, however, the provincial government tabled a bill that seeks to limit total compensation increases to 1% per year over three years. This caused the Employer to withdraw their proposed increases to the Health Care Spending Account and Professional Development Fund, as well as all proposed wage increases to both the salary floor and to a yearly increase.

We want to be clear – your bargaining team takes its direction from you and is accountable to you, the members, NOT to Doug Ford!

The government has simply tabled the bill, and it has not passed into law. As such, we are looking to secure additional bargaining dates with the Employer and will continue to push hard for the gains that you have identified as being important. We will do our best to keep you updated as the situation progresses.

Did you know: there are many ways that you can keep up-to-date with negotiations and support your Bargaining Team? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Download, print, and share the petition to McMaster President Patrick Deane in support of our bargaining demands.
  • Take a picture with the #BetterMac window sign and tag us on social media. Visit BetterMac.ca for a copy of the sign, or drop by the Union Office at Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111 to participate!
  • Attend a bargaining support committee meeting and participate in bargaining support activities. Our Bargaining Team is only as strong as the members who support us, so show that support by getting involved in the committee and meeting your peers and colleagues at the University. The next meeting is on Wednesday, June 26 from 12:30-2:00pm in Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111.

Unit 3 is CUPE 3906’s smallest unit with just over 170 members and consists of postdoctoral fellows working at McMaster University. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #3 — Unit 3: Postdoctoral Fellows

evan3906Uncategorized

HAMILTON, ON — The CUPE 3906 Unit 3 Bargaining Team met face-to-face with the Employer’s Bargaining Team for the first time this bargaining round on May 15, 16, and 17, 2019. The Employer’s Bargaining Team consists of Faculty, Administrators, and representatives from Employee/Labour Relations.

Both parties exchanged initial proposals, and over the course of the first three days, the parties made progress in several articles that address the daily function of labour/management relations, including employee information and orientations. Our team was pleased by the Employer’s receptivity to the Union’s concerns about the need to address domestic violence and its effects as a workplace issue and with the respectable improvements made to members’ protections against harassment and discrimination.

The Union presented a full package addressing all of the priorities that were passed at the April 18, 2019 Special General Membership Meeting, including increases to wages and benefits, the introduction of a pension plan, improvements to resources (such as access to office space and professional development support), and language that would provide guidelines and limitations on student mentorship workloads and expectations.

By the end of the third day of negotiations, the Employer chose not to respond to key financial issues (i.e., salary, pensions), instead focussing largely on smaller items, harassment and discrimination protections, and health and safety. Before the end of the day on Friday, May 17th, the Union’s Bargaining Team members spoke passionately about the importance and urgency of our key priorities. We expect the Employer to respond with a more fulsome package when we meet with them again at the table on June 4th, 2019.

We have two more days scheduled at the bargaining table—June 4th and June 5th. We are committed to working toward a contract settlement at the table that materially and sincerely considers the members’ key priorities. Our Bargaining Team is ready and willing to schedule more days at the table to achieve this goal.

Did you know: there are many ways that you can keep up-to-date with negotiations and support your Bargaining Team? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Download, print, and share the petition to McMaster President Patrick Deane in support of our bargaining demands.
  • Take a picture with the #BetterMac window sign and tag us on social media. Visit BetterMac.ca for a copy of the sign, or drop by the Union Office at Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111 to participate!
  • Attend a bargaining support committee meeting and participate in bargaining support activities. Our Bargaining Team is only as strong as the members who support us, so show that support by getting involved in the committee and meeting your peers and colleagues at the University. The next meeting is on Wednesday, June 5 from 12:30-2:00pm in Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111.

Unit 3 is CUPE 3906’s smallest unit with just over 170 members and consists of postdoctoral fellows working at McMaster University. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

Postdocs ratify their priorities for a BetterMac

evan3906Bargaining, Uncategorized, Unit 3 Bargaining

HAMILTON, ON — Unionized postdoctoral fellows at McMaster University voted Thursday to ratify their priorities for the 2019 round of collective bargaining with the university administration.

The key priorities approved by members are:

  1. Increasing wages
  2. Recognising family status and support
  3. Expanding workplace benefits
  4. Supporting academic and career development
  5. Creating a pension plan

These priorities emerged out of a survey circulated to members by the bargaining team back in February, which generated a record number of responses.

Zobia Jawed, CUPE 3906 Benefits Officer and member of the Unit 3 bargaining team, introduced the meeting by providing an overview of the five priorities identified by the bargaining survey, and, along with the members present, explored the content of each priority.

One of the priorities that generated plenty of discussion among members was the creation of a pension plan. “Currently, we don’t have access to a pension plan,” said Jawed. “But I want to ensure I have some amount of financial support available for me when I retire.”

The time spent on postdoctoral fellowships and other limited-term teaching and research work in Canada has been steadily increasing, and academic workers are not finding permanent jobs until later in life. As a consequence, Canadian postdoctoral fellows experience a extended periods of their career where no contributions to their retirement are being made by their employer.

“There is a very large difference in retirement savings between a worker who benefits from pension contributions immediately post-PhD, and a worker who has to wait until after their postdoc positions are over,” says Toby Brown, a member of the Unit 3 bargaining team. “It’s important that we find a way to address this earnings gap.”

“You can help us fight for your pension in this bargaining round,” added Brown, who spoke strongly in favour of the pension proposal. “Help us get over the line and secure this victory.”

With the five main priorities ratified, Unit 3 members have provided the bargaining team with a clear mandate at the bargaining table.

“In this round of bargaining, we need to come together to fight the growth of precarious work on our campus,” said CUPE 3906 President Angie Perez. “Postdocs contribute so much to the McMaster community, and they deserve support to build a family and plan for the future.”

The bargaining team will now work with CUPE 3906 staff to craft proposals that advance each of the main priorities, and these will then be presented as a package of proposals to the employer’s bargaining team when they meet in May.

Unit 3 is CUPE 3906’s smallest unit with just over 170 members, and consists of postdoctoral fellows working at McMaster University. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.


For more information:

Zobia Jawed, CUPE 3906 — Unit 3 Bargaining Team, benefits@cupe3906.org

Angie Perez, CUPE 3906 President, president@cupe3906.org

Teaching assistants ratify their priorities for a BetterMac

evan3906Communications, Unit 1 Bargaining

HAMILTON, ON — Teaching assistants at McMaster University voted Thursday to ratify their priorities for the 2019 round of collective bargaining with the university administration.

The key priorities approved by members are:

  1. Increasing funding
  2. Expanding mental and physical health and wellness supports
  3. Increasing paid training
  4. Better representation for indigenous members
  5. Improving working conditions

These priorities emerged primarily out of a survey circulated to members by the bargaining team back in February, which generated a record number of responses.

James Watson, Vice President External and a bargaining team member, introduced the discussion by highlighting the principles that motivate CUPE 3906’s bargaining philosophy, which include a commitment to “democracy,” “no concessions,” “university workers are worth it,” and “solidarity.”

Watson then walked members through the five main priorities proposed by the bargaining team, and described the motivation behind each.

One such priority is an increase in paid training, which may include anti-oppression training, expanded training in teaching methods, and other forms of professional development. Watson described the existing training system for teaching assistants as “a patchwork that varies from department to department.” The bargaining team hopes to move the university to a system where a standardized set of skills can be taught and funded by the employer.

“We are bargaining for the common good,” said Watson. “This isn’t only about TA or RA work in a narrow sense. It’s about what’s best for the entire McMaster community and what’s best for our students.”

With the five main priorities now ratified, members have provided the bargaining team with a clear mandate at the bargaining table.

“Our members are telling us loud and clear: we need more funding, and we need language that protects us from tuition hikes that will further erode our funding,” said CUPE 3906 President Angie Perez. “But if we want to make these priorities a reality and reduce precarious work on our campus, we need to come together and fight for it.”

The bargaining team will now work with CUPE 3906 staff to craft proposals that advance each of the main priorities, and these will then be presented as a package of proposals to the employer’s bargaining team when they meet in June.

Unit 1 is CUPE 3906’s largest unit with over 2,900 members, and includes graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, research assistants (in lieu of a TAship), demonstrators, markers, tutors and super tutors. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

 


For more information, contact:

Molle McGuire, CUPE 3906 — Unit 1 Bargaining Team, mcguire.molliec@gmail.com

Angie Perez, CUPE 3906 President, president@cupe3906.org

Bargaining Survey is live

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The link to the Unit 1 (TAs/RAs in lieu) and Unit 3 (Postdocs) bargaining survey was sent via e-mail link today. If you are a member and did not receive the link, please contact staff@cupe3906.org

Today’s survey launch event in MDCL was cancelled due to the weather, but we’ll be continuing the survey launch tour next week in ETB 230 on Tues at 11:30 and in TSH B129 on Thurs at 11:30